Recent happenings in the worlds of sambo, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, submission grappling and/or collegiate/freestyle wrestling. If it takes place on the ground and it's interesting, it should be here.
The weather outside is cold in the Northern hemisphere, but inside the gyms all over the world, the training rooms are hot, smelly and full of young and old grapplers looking to develop and refine their technique and physical condition. A rarefied few are training for the 2012 Olympics in London, England. Now, Brazilian jiu jitsu is not an Olympic sport (and probably should not be), but judoka and freestyle wrestlers worldwide have been convinced that these specific bits of shiny metals are extremely valuable and are prepared to go through physical and mental hells to get them.
Since most of those reading this column are not those judoka or wrestlers - if you are, please let this be read during your downtime - we do not get to watch them until the bright lights are upon the Olympic mats. We miss the years of training, the highs and lows of pursuing athletic success and the individual characteristics that make each person unique. Unlike NBC condensing these stories into schmaltz and cramming them down our throats, Zach Smart, a former wrestler turned videographer, has spent quite some time around some wrestlers who are Olympic hopefuls. Those hours of lugging around the cameras have produced a teaser trailer of Ithaka, which shows at least the beginnings of what looks to be one of the best sports documentaries I've ever seen.
Smart plans to continue rolling through August and capture as much as he possibly can. On the list of very good ideas that may need some future support, this could be somewhere in the region of an English language Buivasar Saitiev documentary.
Below the jump, a rambling Dan Gable sermon delivered while boxing, Jose Aldo's early days as a submission grappler, the Almaty World Masters judo results, several updates on the collegiate wrestling scene, the start to the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation competition scene and perhaps the most bizarre set of "martial arts" pictures I have ever seen. The column closes out with camel wrestling and two cats grappling to Guile's theme.
If you have any video or article links of your own or questions and comments, leave them below or get word to me at DefGrappler on Twitter. Please let me know if I missed anything major and I will fix this, that and the other thing.
The following video may appear to be of a crazy old coot walking around, yammering and whaling on a heavy bag with terrible technique, but it is actually Dan Gable, legendary wrestler and Iowa coach, delivering a long talk to Mark Bader about the purpose of workouts and perhaps a look into just how fierce the focus and dedication an elite wrestler needs to have in order to be an elite wrestler.
New York has been producing some top-notch talent and Cornell is no longer the sole diamond in the rough. Binghampton, ranked #24 at the time, gave #5 ranked Cornell all their team could handle in a narrow 22-21 criteria-decided dual meet. Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz picked up a couple of falls and continued their build towards NCAA gold.
The Guelph Open was held five days ago in Guelph, Canada. The wrestlers involved were all North American, but the competition was surprisingly tough. Themat.com has the results and it looks like Andrew Howe is going to be one extremely tough opponent for Jordan Burroughs to beat in two months.
The judo competitive season kicked off with a great event in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Several dozen of the finest competitors on the planet showed up and grappled at the World Masters. The Japanese team retained their typical share of the medals, but it seems that China and Brazil have replaced France and Korea temporarily as serious medals contenders. Tiago Camilo, ">subject of much discussion in the last Matwork! issue, finished third in his -90 kg division. IntJudo.eu has the results for Day 1 and Day 2 if you'd care to view them. GreekJudo and Judohatti have uploaded a ton of Almaty 2012 World Pro matches on YouTube, so matching the recap to the actual matches is possible. Remember that all of this is a build-up to the London Olympics and the competition is getting fierce for those national team spots.
My favorite throw of the tournament came as Masashi Nishiyama beat Kiril Voprosov with a very nifty foot sweep (scored a yuko, rather than an ippon) in the -90 kg finals. This specific ashi waza is something akin to a counter to a counter to a counter and Nishiyama makes it look somewhat easy.
The semi-finals of the -100 kg category saw Maxim Rakov (of Kazakhstan) beat the world champion and current #1 ranked judoka in his division, Anai Takamasa with an extremely sweet foot sweep. The judo people call it okuri ashi harai and you can see for yourself how sweet that technique can be.
Submission Grappling/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu News:
The 2012 IBJJF European Championships are being held right now in Lisbon, Portugual. The official page and strangely formatted brackets can be glimpsed here, but the best updates will come from Twitter feeds of competitors, referees and grappling journalists. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rafael Lovato Jr., who is competing in the Medium Heavy division, but he faces stiff challenges within the division with Rodolfo Vieira, the newest superstar in the sport staring at him from the other half of the bracket. The men's black belt divisions look a bit thinned out, perhaps because newer competitions with cash prizes are starting to attract bigger and better crowds of competitors.
One such tournament is the Abu Dhabi World Pro, which held its Rio de Janeiro qualifiers last week. The athletes of Grapple Fight Team, begun by Julio Cesar Pereira, did astoundingly well as five GF Team competitors won their respective divisions and all-expenses paid trips to the Abu Dhabi World Pro later this year. Rodolfo Vieira was predictably the winner of his division and Ricardo Evangelista, Vitor Henrique, Vinicius Marinho and Theodoro Canal joined him. Some photos are available over on GracieMag.
The gi and no-gi Gracie Nationals will be held on the 28th and 29th. The rules are a bit quirky in that the competitor must submit their opponent within fifteen minutes to win. No points or advantages are awarded. If nobody is submitted, both competitors are out of the bracket. More information can be found here and I am curious to see if match videos pop up later.
Christian Graugart, a Danish brown belt and the best BJJ blogger anywhere, returned to Moldova to teach a seminar. What makes this special is that Moldova is essentially the furthest place in Europe from any solid grappling or economic base possible - and there is still a group of young people trying to learn submission grappling out there. Graugart made some connections in Moldova on his trip through the country last year in the early going of his BJJ Globetrotter project.
And now, to close out strong with the grappling animals. I came across a Sports Illustrated photo of two camels wrestling and spun that off into an hour researching Turkic tribal customs and YouTube videos. The custom is widespread enough that there is a Wikipedia page for camel wrestling - which lists one of the hazards for spectators as being "camel spittle" and being in danger of trampling by a runaway camel. Check it out:
Lastly, DeoWade's find: two cats battling to Guile's theme.
People, I always need more awesome Odds & Ends. Videos, gifs, links, whatever. Do not hesitate to send them my way in the comments or on Twitter.